Flying down the snowy hill, I clung tightly to the edges of the cardboard box, preparing myself for a crash landing at the bottom. I was already regretting my decision, but it was too late to turn back now. What on earth made me think it was a good idea to go sledding with a recently sprained foot?
Just a week ago, I was hopping around on crutches. I’d fallen down some cement steps in Germany and pulling a tendon in my right foot. But this thirteen-inch snowfall over Christmas was the most snow Virginia Beach had seen in twenty years, and I didn’t want to miss the rare opportunity for some winter fun with my family. “My foot’s almost back to normal,” I told myself. “It’ll be fine”. I felt like I was ten years old as I slid down the hill again and again with the icy wind in my face, landing in a sprawling heap at the bottom.
By the time I finally returned home, however, and peeled off my snow-encrusted shoes, my foot was complaining at the mistreatment. The soreness and swelling was a painful reminder that it hadn’t completely healed yet. Going sledding at this stage of recovery had not been the wisest choice.
The experience made me think of a conversation I’d had a few weeks earlier in Germany with Pastor Chris, a teacher at the Bible school where I was serving as a volunteer. He asked how my experiences these last few months in Germany differed from the four years I worked with an Asian ministry in China. To my embarrassment, I started crying as I talked about the supportive, encouraging atmosphere in Germany, and the leaders who trusted me to make good decisions. It was very different from the authoritarian, hierarchical Asian system, where I was expected to do as I was told and not ask questions, even when I was struggling with physical exhaustion and emotional burnout.
“I don’t know why I’m crying,” I apologized, blowing my nose. “It’s been two and a half years since I’ve come home from China. I thought I was over these issues.”
“Sometimes the healing process takes longer than we expect,” Pastor Chris responded gently. “You have to allow time for the Lord to complete the work in you. And it seems this time in Germany is part of that process.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God makes everything beautiful “in His time.” God’s timing is not always according to my preferred schedule. My impatience to hurry up the healing process and “get on with my life” can slow down the recovery even more! Just like my sprained foot needs time to heal and get strong, so the emotional healing God is doing in me will take time. But I know He’s at work, and I know His timing is best!
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (New Living Translation)